On Copper Wings is a film made by insects. No individual insects are listed in association with it - it is thought that hundreds of millions of insects worked on this production. The movie tells the story of the insect creation myth, which involves the insect development of science and technology, insects time traveling to 450 million years ago to rescue the early proto-insects from the Ordovician-Silurian extinction event, and genetically modifying them to be more competitive.
The film is very difficult to follow for a human audience. Some sequences are thought to represent the perspective of an insect hive, rather than an individual insect. Much of the film also respresents idealized versions of things, which, since we have no idea what ideals insects possess, are completely abstract and mysterious to the human viewer.
To the best of our current understanding, the movie depicts the following:
The introduction is some combination of back-history of pre-rational insect life, and the first beginnings of insect intellectual persuits. The dawn of insect rationalism.
We have no idea what this represents. There are images of centipedes, which are myriapoda not insects, so perhaps this is where insects discover their ancient biological history, and decide to modify it.
There is now a long sequence of the development of insect alchemy. Insect alchemy is primarily based on insect biology. That is, modifications & manipulations of body chemistry, rather than lab work with external chemicals. There are a lot of shots of wasp nests and moth wings in this. We think that moths in particular were leaders in this era of insect history, and that most of the research was carried out on wasp larvae.
We next see a series of abstract bits hinting at DNA, representing the insect's mastering of genetic modification techniques.
Up to this point, insect science has been very uniquely insect - using the various tools and technologies available from the natural insect world. Body chemistry, exoskeletons, nests, etc. However, to develop time travel, the insects need to first develop high-frequency electronic circuitry. This shows that history, or perhaps, a snapshot of insect electronic technology at the period just before they begin to travel back to the Ordovician.
The insects now travel back in time to 450 million years ago, and rescue the proto-insects which have recently split from crustaceans, from the rapidly approaching Ordovician-Silurian extinction event.
They arrive at 450 million years ago in south-western Avalonia, which was an island at that point. The rock images might be hinting at the tectonic activity of that era - the formation of Gondwana, etc.
The Ordovician-Silurian extinction event itself is a major sequence in the film, demonstrating its continued importance in insect society. In fact, what little we know about the original release of the movie is that it was extremely controversial because insect audiences considered this scene to be incredibly offensive and shocking. We also know that close to one million insects died getting the footage for this scene.
The Ordovician-Silurian extinction event is called "The Lost Time" by insects.
Aside: it is apparently widely believed by insect scientists that the Cambrian Explosion was caused by a similar genetic modification program run by time-traveling cephalopods.
After the extinction event, the rest of the movie is basically "and everyone lived happily ever after". However, there is a clear sequence of four scenes: natural, technological, natural, and technological again, which possibly relate to major periods of insect history. We don't know anything about this subject, so it's impossible to even guess what kind of timescale is being portrayed - it might all take place in the Silurian period, it might represent history up to the present, or it might be depicting expected future insect progress. It might not even be chronological, but instead show the diversification of the insect world, genetically or perhaps culturally. More research is needed.
It was initially assumed that the title of the film, "On Copper Wings", referred to the electronic circuitry that allowed the insects to "fly" across time. However, we have discovered that this is not the case. No other explanation has been suggested.
By Dave Fischer.